Note: Since the time of this interview, Jim Goad has had quite an interesting life.
Go to www.jimgoad.com for the updates.

Jim Goad Talks About the Uproar
In Bellingham, Among Other Things

A few weeks ago, Jim Goad of ANSWER Me! fame told me there was a problem brewing in Bellingham, Washington, located 1 hour north of Seattle. Seems that a woman at the University in Bellingham had taken offense to ANSWER Me! #4 (The Rape Issue), and, rather than ignore that which offended her, this young woman took it upon herself to campaign against ANSWER Me! and the Goads. She brought her copy of #4 to the local Rape Crisis Center, where, as you would expect, everyone's shorts got all bound up.

Pressured by the Whatcom County Rape Crisis Center, on February 14th, police arrested Ira Stohl and Kristina Hjelsand, the owner and manager of The Newstand, the store in which the young co-ed stumbled upon a copy of ANSWER Me! #4. The county charge is "felony distribution of lewd material for profit." If convicted, Ira and Kristina can each receive up to 5 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Sounds ludicrous? 'Course it does. Remember Mike Diana?

I spoke with Jim two days after the arrests.


How is #4 selling?

Where it's being sold it's selling ok. I heard a story about a record store in Portland that carries magazines: they had it under the counter with no indication that it was actually in the store, behind a black wood counter. But it was still the number one seller. We've got like 30 left, so I guess it's doing ok.

How many did you print?

13,000.

I was surprised to see how high a print run you did with the first issue.

I was oblivious to what was necessary, so we set out trying to print 3000 where I worked, but they fucked it up so bad that it turned into 2700. And they didn't move at all, until issue 2. That's why I did, initially, only 2000 of #2...I had 12 boxes stacked up in my kitchen.

And then it caught and they went flying out the door.

I'm sure there was some fortuitous timing when Dahmer made it big.

Still have the freaks writing you?

We get the freaks. It's abated somewhat with this issue; I think the freaks are afraid...it kinda lost some people who admire Peter Sotos' writing, but would never in a million years write him.

It [AM! #2] certainly caught on the peak of the whole serial killer nonsense. I imagine it took a lot to scuttle the serial killer image.

I just identify with the fucking rage; it's the fanboyish treatment that, you know, the baseball mentality about it that I find loathsome. That, I think, is so much more desensitizing than anything we've actually done toward actual violence, that sort of the postmodern wink about all this shit...I take special pride in the picture of the guy saying "two Dahmers for a Gacy." [From ANSWER Me! The First Three]

So what about Bellingham?

From what I know, if I go up there, I may be arrested, and I don't know if you know, being held for any length of time, it's not pleasant...

I mean, the claustrophobia, being in a cell where you can't look at anything, or do anything for hours on end, is maddening...I'm sure it would heal me of my sociopathic tendencies, locked up in jail for...

...publishing?

I'm not going to fucking be a sanctimonious draper of the First Amendment. I'm of the Libertarian tint, that we give the government rights, not vice-versa. It's ludicrous that they should even meddle.

Most notably, leave me the fuck alone.

Yeah, when I sit down to do my taxes, I'm also resentful...fucking when they prosecuted Sotos, Sotos got probation, it cost over a million bucks.

Are you serious?

Yeah, they had 18 cops running though his apartment. We may, if we ever get around to it, when we do TOOL, we may be reprinting text from the first 3 Pures, which I guess should increase marketability or whatever.

What's the story on him [Sotos] ?

Basically, he was able to release 2 issues of Pure, but the 2nd had a picture of a 9-year old's vagina on the cover, but it was of such crude xerox quality that you'd have to be told what it was. I've seen it, and I'm looking, and I still can't place the elements. And I'm guessing the circulation was at that time around two, three hundred.

Just around Chicago?

Right. And when he got busted, the night he got busted, all 3 network channels showed the cover, which I find ludicrous. But he was eventually convicted of felony possession of child pornography.

Where'd he get the picture?

God, I don't know. He was one of the first prosecuted on the child pornography law. There was tons of that shit before this went down in the early '80's. It may have been from some Danish mag. The rape and sexual offense rates are lower there, so it makes you wonder.

Give a guy the chance to jerk off to a nine-year old, he may not go look at his little daughter any more?

Yeah. There's this performance artist in Portland--I guess you can call him a performance artist, for lack of a better word--his name's Jim Spagg, about 55 years old, his wife left him for an American Indian, he has what has to be the tiniest penis on earth. He's on public access here and he dances around naked in his apartment and reads poetry. About 3 or 4 weeks ago, I was taping his show and he was showing nude kids running on the beach. I immediately hit Stop and started recording Denny's commercials, in case I'm ever raided.

Probably just some naturalist video.

It probably was, but in the context of this lunatic, it just seemed a lot more evil. He's gone off the air, I guess from that. I'm pretty jaded, but it's unlike anything I've ever seen. A new term has to be invented for what this guy is doing.

You're in Portland, and you get that. I'm in an East Coast, supposed-city, and I don't get [public access] dick here.

Oregon is great. A couple lawyers told me "If you're going to be prosecuted for obscenity, you picked the right state" 'cause this is the # 1 state for non-embellished interpretation of the First Amendment. They have absolutely no obscenity law. They shot down an anti-Child Pornography law on the ballot here. It's almost inconceivable to me the way the thing was phrased. Measure 19: Stop Child Pornography. Who the hell is for child pornography? It was vague, and on a purely pragmatic level, I think it passed because we have more titty bars per capita than anywhere on earth. All these drunk assholes were afraid they [the titty bars] were going to be taken away.

First step is kiddie porn, second step is my titty bar and my $10 hookers. Sure don't want 'em cracking down on my cheap handjobs.

The skankiest women on earth, dancing. Big sex industry. I guess there's not much more going on. There's a pretty depressing heroin underground here, too. But for the most part it's straight laced, except when it comes to civil rights. I found out that California is only second to Florida for prosecuting obscenity.

Really? Florida is no surprise as #1, but California...

Especially with all the problems they have there. There's an undeclared race war in Southern California, pretty much.

LA is one place I have no desire to live.

Been there?

Shit, no. I've never been anywhere.

I had the typically East Coast chauvinistic attitude about the West Coast and LA, but after one too many of those Philly winters...I hate people everywhere, I might as well be warmer. It's better here, it's a lot more pastoral, bucolic.

Settling down on the farmstead...Jim Goad.

Oh, yeah. You should see how reactionary TruckStud is.

When is that due?

Endlessly derailed, now.

Is it complete? Or still editing?

Ah, still editing, I'll put it that way. And it may be released in conjunction with a Big Red Goad EP or something. I tackle some of the [in his best trucker baritone] "I get on my wheels..." Completely bombastic, sequence my voice deeper, try to hit notes lower than [Dave] Dudley did.

How did "Inside a Cop's Mind" sell?

God, you know, I doubt it went very well. I imagine there will probably be a lot of bargain bin copies. But I wouldn't know. I got my cut with 85 free CDs.

You like this barter deal, huh?

They [AmRep] weren't going to give me money anyway. The sick thing is I fucking sold out of them, so I now I've gotta buy them at $7 a pop. Which gives me a 50¢ profit or something.

They sold out, all through the mail?

Yeah. We've also been instructed to be a little careful about sending anything through the mail at this point.

Crossing state lines gets things into the Federal realm, I suppose?

Yeah.

You look for age statements and all that?

We had to send back about 100 orders to get age statements. I've got them all documented. That is one of the benefits of being anal: your ass is covered for when the feds come.

Two years ago you would've laughed at that. "Oh yeah, THEY, the MEN IN BLACK, sure, sure they'll bother with me." What penalty can the owners of The Newstand get?

Five years in jail.

You told me that they were the ones who hopped on the media wagon?

They...ah, this, this is what...I'm sure that you've probably even heard that we're sellouts in some capacity. I came up fucking here to get away from publicity. I write to get it off my chest, not to meet people. I'm so misanthropic, I haven't gone to any cocktail parties. If they held a book release party for ANSWER Me! I wouldn't fucking show up, you know. It's just my nature.

I'd go for the drinks and leave.

Yeah, well I haven't had a drink in...christ...

Now we're probably going to get more publicity than fucking ever. But, uh, they...I can see it--if I was facing charges, I'd probably do the same thing. They want everyone to know about it, not just have it be a backwoods scandal.

Obscurity certainly won't help their case.

I guess their fax campaign did help, because some ACLU representative has offered to underwrite the entire thing. And they had 4 or 5 private lawyers in Bellingham offering the same. They're going to have a benefit up there.

I guess it's ok, except that you're the one who has to answer your phone every day.

It's been quiet today, I think I've regained some of my cheer; I can deal with this shit. But you feel like Madonna or something when they're fucking knocking at your door. It's a very weird feeling--you're peering through the window shade, and you see them getting out of the news truck.

Close the door, cock the gun, and wait for them to try to turn the handle...

If I lived anywhere else in Portland, I wouldn't care. [Here] it's just so working class, families, Christian type of values.

Not only do you not want them at your door, but you don't want everyone seeing them at your door.

On the Portland TV news, they hovered in and played evil music behind the picture of us sitting with our guns on the couch. So they already know what we look like. This is the most insular area I've ever lived in, so that creeps me out.

What's Debbie's take on the whole thing?

She's more concerned with getting a job than dealing with this bullshit. She's 100% supportive...just pissed off. I mean, she's more of a misogynist than I ever can hope to be...I really just fucking want it to end because I'm so easily distracted.

Where did you meet Debbie?

Johnny Thunders concert, Irving Plaza, New York, February 15, 1986. Married on October 15th, 1987 by Revered Walker Goad in a trailer in Vegas. People don't believe it; it's such a rare name. In Philadelphia, we were the only ones. We planned to go to Vegas to get married, and we checked the phone book. I couldn't believe there was a Reverend named Goad: Reverend Walker Goad and his wife Faith.

I read that in issue...4? I'm sure that was further fuel for the pen name fire.

[People] thinking it was a pen name?

That you named yourself after the preacher.

Yeah, it kind of sucks going through all the Billy Goad stuff through grade school. I mean, my parents didn't tell me much, but he [Rev. Walker] told me the etymology: there was a criminal class of Goads brought over here...our version of Australia. Supposedly the New England Patriots have a Tim Goad as a nose tackle. Some guy in Boston keeps me up to date.

If they come after you, what's the charge they'll put on you?

I don't know. From what I know, the Whatcom guys can't come after me at all. They may want to hand it over to the Feds, see if they want to make a Federal obscenity case.

You think the Feds would bother?

I think the Feds are a little smarter than a backwoods lawyer.

How is this going to affect your publishing [Sotos'] Tool?

Delay it. Probably create a lot of advance hype, may even wind up getting us a book contract with someone who's willing to take the risk.

You're publishing it yourself?

Yeah, it's already typeset.

What else do I want to know?

I guess that all I know right now. They're going to have some sort of hearing on the 24th [February] to set a trial date. The Prosecutor really wants to do it.

But, gee, don't you secretly enjoy this?

Maybe when I first started "zineing" maybe I enjoyed a little of the attention, but I'm not cut out for it. I'm really not. I really am misanthropic--I don't like dealing with people. It's not pleasant. And especially dealing with all the ways they twist shit and misquote. I'm not being a prima donna, but I'm appalled at the lack of journalistic aptitude in this country. They always fuck it up, even if it's not something defamatory, they just misquote what I was saying. Like this guy in Bellingham, I said "the tactics of these feminists remind me of Christian tactics" and I was quoted twice, in two articles, as saying that Christians are trying to quash the debate about rape. They think I'm a dummy or something; they're dealing with a guy who's anally obsessive about accuracy.

And about your press.

Yeah, I guess. I'm notorious for being a little sensitive about bad reviews. And you should see some of the reviews for # 4. They don't bother me any more, but inaccuracy does. I've accepted now that I'm not Barbara Bush and not everyone's going to like me. I can deal with that, and deal with people's aesthetic differences, whereas I may not have been able to before. But people who fuck up shit just get on my nerves, and calling me stupid just pisses me off.

From your first issue, there's a great quote. "For us, mass murder isn't the problem, self-righteousness is." Do you think that sums you up?

Oh, yeah.

For me, that quote sums up the whole personae that either you have created, or that people have created about you. To me, that really is the boiled-down version of AM!.

I've seen a few reviews of the [ANSWER Me!] book, and all of them say that the first one was the best, which I disagree with. It 's mostly shit that got thrown away by other people.

It's more journalistic.

[Laughs] When I still pretended to be a journalist.

No plans to write for Details anytime soon?

No, no. Hopefully this'll be big enough that we'll get offered something...I can write a book about what happened, so I can pay any legal costs, whatever. That's the most you can hope for, I suppose.


By the time most of you read this, the Bellingham incident will have either blown up to national proportions, or it will have fizzled out. Here's to hoping that, either way, the Goads kept their noses clean.

Reach Jim Goad at jimgoad.com.

 


(Spring, 95)